As this quadrennial season of self-flagellation and lunacy drags to its inevitable conclusion, a ray of hope breaks the horizon: baseball season is nearly upon us. I can feel elated that, despite my lack of faith, the Mets resigned Yo Cespedes and Mets fans need never care for a moment where on this planet he was born or how he got to this country, never doubt that baseball is a true meritocracy, and never begrudge him that three-wheeled motorcycle thing he drove to spring training last year even if I do want one myself. I can cheer for a guy like TJ Rivera, an unheralded local guy who was never projected to go much of anywhere but through dint of hard work, talent and desire has turned himself into a hitting machine. And even if he never sees much time with the Mets, he’ll wind up swinging his bat somewhere in the big leagues and I will cheer for him every time he comes up, even if he’s with the evil Phillies or the hated Braves. Baseball is a snapshot of what I would like to think is best about us: mostly fun, sometimes silly, littered with rewards, punishments, lucky bounces and bad breaks, and unconcerned, for the most part, about irrelevancies like ethnicity or race. And unlike football, there is no real human cost for those who play the game, they need not all limp through their forties and die in their fifties, they have just as good a chance of playing with their grandchildren as the rest of us.
When I was in my twenties I ran into a guy who lamented that ‘the n—–s have ruined baseball,’ he is dead now and buried. I wish that his ignorance and hate had been buried with him, but as Shakespeare observed long ago, it doesn’t always work out that way.